I love Japan. The 10 days I just spent there was my third time in the country, but before this trip to attend the First International Mokuhanga Conference it had been six years since I last visited. I've also never been to the Kansai area before, so there was a lot of newness for me this trip. I did all my free-time traveling in the four days before the conference, and I began my travels in Urawa, which is north of Tokyo, at my friend Mariko's house. I stayed in Urawa just long enough to have a lovely dinner with Mariko's family and to be awakened by an aftershock during the night. The next morning Mariko and I hopped the shinkansen (bullet train) and made our way south and west to Kyoto.
Mariko getting directions for us
In Kyoto we met up with Baren Forum member and printmaker Linda Beeman for an afternoon tour of temples and shrines in the district of Kyoto called Gion. Meeting Linda was just the first encounter of many that I had with printmaker friends who I have only known online. I'm happy to report that everyone I met, including Linda, was even nicer in 3-D than I had imagined them to be in cyberspace.
Linda Beeman in front of a big concrete Kannon (Kuan-Yin) statue in Gion
I was amazed and impressed when Linda told me that not only was this her first time in Japan, but it was her first time overseas at all! Such courage. She was staying at a really nice traditional ryokan (inn) in Gion.
Here are a few more photographs from my sightseeing before the conference.
Another view of the big concrete statue of Kannon (Kuan-Yin). Someday I want to do a Kannon Pilgrimage
Kyoto is a school trip destination for students from all over Japan, and we saw these groups wherever we went
Mariko and I spent a long quiet time here at the famous Ryoanji Temple rock garden
A little stupa-like structure at Kinkakuji
Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto
Tomorrow I'll start on my reports about the actual Mokuhanga Conference.